The Organization Of Honey Bee Colonies

Image of large honeybee colony

Honey bees are social insects that dwell in huge, well-organized family groups. Social insects are highly evolved insects that perform a number of complicated functions that solitary insects are unable to perform.

Honey bees have developed various behaviors to help them survive in social colonies, including communication, intricate nest construction, environmental control, defense, and division of labor. In general, social insects and honey bees are among the most fascinating organisms on the planet because of their captivating activities. 1Go To Source canr.udel.edu -“The Colony and Its Organization”

Bee Colony Members

Honeybees are sociable insects, which implies that they live in family groupings. This social group performs a wide range of sophisticated tasks that lonely bees are unable to complete. Adult bees are divided into three categories: queens, workers, and drones.

The Queen Bee

Image of honey bee hive membersThe queen bee’s abdomen is usually smooth and extended, extending well beyond her folded wings, allowing her to be identified.

Her role in the hive is that of a producer. She is usually the colony’s lone reproductive female. Early in the spring, when the workers bring the first new pollen home, egg-laying begins. The creation of eggs will continue until the fall or until pollen is no longer available.

The queen might produce as many as 2000 eggs per day at her peak output. A queen bee can live up to five years, but her functional life span is usually two or three years. Younger queens generate more eggs, whereas elderly queens may produce an excessive number of drones.

Every year or two, many beekeepers re-queen their colonies. Older queens are frequently succeeded (replaced) by workers without the beekeeper’s awareness or aid. An expert beekeeper can raise nice queens, but a beginner would be better off buying decent queens from a respected provider. 2Go To Source uaex.edu -“About Honey Bees – Types, Races, and Anatomy “

Drone Honey Bees

Male bees are referred to as drones, and unlike most female bees, they do not have stingers.

Only a few months of the year are male bees present. With their huge eyes that encircle practically their entire head, they can appear weird. Their large eyes are used to locate queen bees during flight. The only task of the male is to propagate the colony’s genes. Every day, they leave the colony in search of new queens to mate with. 3Go To Source asu.edu -“Colony Life of a Honey Bee”

Worker Honey Bees

Worker honey bees make up the majority of a colony’s population. Although worker bees are entirely female, they are unable to lay fertile eggs. When there is no queen, they will occasionally lay unfertilized eggs, which will develop into male drones. Worker bees defend the colony with their barbed stingers, but when they attack, the barbs stick to the victim’s skin, shredding the stinging bee’s abdomen and killing it.

Honey bee colonies cannot function without their workers. They forage for pollen and nectar, look after queens and drones, feed larvae, ventilate the hive, defend the nest, and do other things to ensure the colony’s survival. Worker bees have an average lifespan of about six weeks.

Honey Bee Swarming

Photo of bee swarm on treeThe process by which a honey bee colony reproduces and develops new colonies is known as swarming. The worker bees signal that it is time to swarm when a honey bee colony outgrows its housing becomes too congested or becomes too crowded for the queen’s pheromones to regulate the entire workforce. The workers begin constructing swarm cells in preparation for the arrival of new queens.

The colony’s behavior alters once the swarm cells are built, and the queen lays eggs in them. The workers begin erratic movements within the hive as foraging slows. In the meantime, the queen stops laying eggs and loses weight to be able to fly. When the queen is ready, she exits the hive, trailed by almost half of the workers in a vast cloud of flying bees. The queen will seek out a nearby tree, land and emit pheromones to attract the workers to her. While scout bees search for a new home, the cluster will remain there for several hours. The cluster will frequently depart, travel a mile or more, and reconstitute on a branch far from the initial hive.

When a suitable home is discovered, the entire cluster will take to the air and fly to the new area, where it will begin to build comb, grow new brood, and gather pollen and nectar.

Honey Bee Brood

There are hundreds of honey bees in a honey bee colony. Each hive member, including workers, drones, and the queen, has a job to do. The future generation, on the other hand, is the most vital portion of the colony. Bee brood is what we name these developing baby bees. Monitoring the state of a hive’s brood nest is an essential element of hive management.

In the field of beekeeping, brood refers to eggs, larvae, and pupae. Honey bees have a four-stage life cycle, and these developing bees are part of it.

Types Of Bee Brood Cells

In the hive, there are two types of brood cells. Once the brood has gone through the egg and larval stages, adult bees seal these cells. The larval spins its cocoon while within the cell and develops into pupae once the cell is capped. A worker chews its way out of its cell when fully developed, whereas a drone requires other adult workers to chew his cell open for him and then pull him out. A bee is classified as an adult once it emerges from its cell.

Capped Worker Cells: Located in the colony’s center, these cells are somewhat domed, almost flat. Not as translucent as honey with a cap.

Drone Cells with Caps: Capped drone cells have a larger diameter and are domed much higher than worker cells. Drone cells are typically grouped at the hive’s lower edge and have a spherical bullet shape look.

Honey Bee Communication

From the smallest worker bees to the queen herself, every hive member strives to maintain the colony’s health, productivity, and prosperity. Honey bees are superb team players, so they must be wonderful communicators. Bees communicate about food supplies, hive production, and other topics through smell and movement.

Honey bees use pheromones, which are olfactory signals, to interact with one another. Each pheromone serves a distinct role and communicates a particular message. When worker bees use their stinger, they produce a pheromone. This stench serves as a warning to any other bees around, alerting them to the hazard. This is why beekeepers use smokers around their hives as they perform honey bee removal services.

Movement—specifically, dance—is another vital aspect of how honey bees communicate with one another. The waggle dance is a set of signals used by worker bees to aid in the discovery of nearby food sources, water, and other items of interest. When a bee returns from a successful foraging excursion, it will dance for the other bees to ensure that everyone has access to this valuable resource.

 

Sources:

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